Becoming a Surveyor

What does the job involved?

Firstly, they are not estate agents. Like solicitors, surveyors are employed either by the tenant or the landlord, buyer or the seller – this can vary from one commission to another. However, as well as property and land, surveying also covering a large number of different areas like construction projects, minerals, the seabed and antiques, meaning that chartered surveying isn’t defined by just one career, but rather a variety of careers with certain skills in common. As a result, if you want to be a chartered surveyor you could work in a number of different fields such as:

Arts and Antiques – This is a highly specialised market offering advise to clients on the valuation, sale, purchase and management of antiques and fine arts. 

Building control surveyors  – Ensuring that the design and construction stages of new and altered buildings complies to all building regulations and other legislation.

Building surveyor – advising on the design and construction of new buildings and the repair and renovation of existing buildings. They are also involved in maintenance, improvement and upgrading of buildings and assessing health and safety requirements.

Construction surveyor- overseeing construction projects, from bridges to new houses.

Residential property surveyor – advising on the buying, selling and development of houses and flats.

Commercial property surveyor – advising on the purchase, sale and development of commercial property such as offices, shops and industrial units.

Planning and development surveyor – advising, investigating, planning and managing proposals to build either new developments or organise the refurbishment of existing buildings.

Investment surveyor – providing investment appraisals, design, portfolio management, planning and development consultancy and management of the development process.

Quantity surveyor – assessing and managing the costs of building projects, making sure that the cost is controlled, and that the required standards and quality are achieved at the right value.

Environmental surveyor – ensuring design and construction specifications minimise the impact of structures on the environment. They also assess and monitor the effects of existing buildings and look for possible improvements in energy efficiency.

Technical surveyor – advising on the best use of an organisation’s equipment, such as industrial plant and machinery.

Rural property surveyor – offering expertise on management, auctioning, lease reviews and the valuing of farm assets and livestock.

Land or geomatics surveyor – assessing and producing reports on the redevelopment of land.

Minerals and mining surveyor – valuing services waste management sites, mines and quarries. They also give advice on developing and managing mineral sites safely and within the regulations.

The skills of a chartered surveyor can be applied to other areas of work, including: Arts and antiques and management consultancy.

You can check out the complete pathway profiles on the RICS website.

Factors to consider if you fancy becoming a surveyor?

Communication skills are really important because almost all of these jobs involve negotiating, bargaining, offering advice and explaining ideas.

Working hours are normally Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, but additional hours may sometimes be needed to meet deadlines.

There are opportunities for part-time work.

The work is varied: Surveyors spend time in offices, on site and visiting clients.

It can often involves working outdoors, regardless of the weather and you may need a head for heights as climbing ladders and scaffolding may be involved.

The work may mean you have to spend time away from home to visit sites

You can work in the UK and overseas.

A driving licence is needed for many jobs.

Placement salaries vary between £11,500 and £20,000 a year and graduates can expect to start on £19,000-£25,000  increasing to £30,000-£36,000 with experience. At a senior level (e.g. after 10-15 years in the role) the salary is around £52,000, but varies considerably with the area and type of work with investment and  financial specialist being the best paid. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) the average salary for its members is £50,250.

Most surveyors will also receive additional benefits as part of their salary package including performance-related bonuses; company car and health insurance.

In the private sector, employers include surveying practices, property companies, consultancies, construction companies, national and regional chains of estate agents, housing associations and large organisations that own land (such as retailers, fast food restaurant chains, supermarkets, utility companies and financial institutions). In the public sector, employers include local authorities, government departments, hospital trusts and universities.

Jobs are advertised in Chartered Surveyor Monthly, The Surveyor, Building, Property Week, Estates Gazette and, the official recruitment website of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

What do I need become a surveyor?

For a RICS-accredited degree course, the qualifications needed are generally three A levels/, plus at least five GCSE’s/S grades (A-C), or equivalent. Check specific requirements with individual institutions. Useful A level subjects include English, geography, maths, geology, economics, law, IT, art, business studies, languages and design and technology.

Candidates without the academic qualifications for degree courses may be able to take HNC/HND courses or Foundation degrees. These can be ‘topped up’ with further study for RICS-accredited degrees.

You can also take a first degree not accredited by RICS followed by an accredited postgraduate conversion course. Useful first degree subjects include geography, mathematics, economics and physical sciences.

First degrees and postgraduate conversion courses accredited by RICS are available through full-time or part-time study, and by distance learning. So it is possible to study at the same time as gaining practical experience with an employer.

Once qualified RICS members are required to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of sixty hours every three years. This is usually split into twenty hours each year and can be done online. Surveyors are increasingly encouraged to develop business and management skills.

My advice is to leap at every opportunity, even if it seems like you’ll be out of your depth. You’ll learn faster that way.


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